Ellsworth AFB’s crews and maintainers guide us trough an unprecedented tour of the BONE.
Last month we reported about our friend Erik Johnston’s video of the loading process of the B-1B’s Rotary Launcher System, the first of a series dedicated to the “BONE” (from “B-One”, as the aircraft is unofficially nicknamed). This week, the second video of the series has been released, showing the B-1’s most detailed walkaround tour ever recorded.
The video was recorded in one of Ellsworth Air Force Base’s hangars, housing the 8th Bomber Wing’s flag ship (AF serial 86-0129, nicknamed “The Black Widow”), with the 34th Bomb Squadron crews and maintainers explaining the features of the bomber, both inside and outside. The walkaround is two and a half hours long, with tons of information about this supersonic, multirole heavy bomber.
The aircraft in the video was just washed and, because of this, all surfaces of the wing (flaps, spoilerons and slats) were deployed, allowing to appreciate the complexity of the variable-sweep wing. The wing can be swept in multiple positions while flying, however this is a delicate process as it puts lots of stress on the airframe, resulting in a 1.4 G limit while the wing is moving.
A pilot and a Weapons Systems Officer also talked extensively about the bomber’s three weapon ways, showing the forward one fitted with an enormous 20,000 lb fuel tank that is used to provide between 45 minutes and 1 hour and 15 minutes of additional endurance. Later in the video, a specialist from the 28th Munitions Squadron explained the different weapons employed by the B-1B, showing on the trailers the CBU-103 WCMD, GBU-31 (both Mk-84 and BLU-109 warheads) and GBU-54 JDAM, AGM-158B JASSM-ER and AGM-158C LRASM. Incidentally, during the current BTF, two B-1 bombers launching from RAF Fairford, employed live GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, as well as a live AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, in what was the first time AFCENT flew multiple weapons types and practiced employment against multiple simulated targets during a single bomber task force mission.
A long part of the video is dedicated to the “office” of the pilots and the WSOs, where they show the myriad of switches and gauges that can be found in the cramped space reserved to the crew. In fact, as many say (including the WSO in the video), the B-1B’s space is all used by weapons and fuel, with just a tiny bit of space left for the four crew members.